At Cambridge in 1937 the Master, Vernon Joyce is seriously ill but no one has told him as such. The faculty begin debating who his replacement should be. Jago has some support and Lewis Eliot is sent to test him out and determine if he would be a candidate. He would but others in the group seem to support Crawford. Eliot and Roy Calvert, who has recently returned from doing research in Berlin, set about gaining further support for their candidate. College politics proves to be challenging, to say the least.